PROPOSALS that could see ferry services from Weymouth to the Channel Islands return are described as ‘a welcome boost’.
Dorset Council, however, insists that some ‘fundamental considerations’ still need to be resolved before a final decision can be made.
As reported, plans have been seen by Weymouth City Council and Dorset Council which could see services resume for the first time since 2015.
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The plans were discussed by Weymouth City Council on June 1 after two years of discussions “initially with the States of Guernsey and more recently a major ferry company”.
Weymouth City Council are “liaising” with Dorset Council over the plans, which have been formally submitted but full details have yet to be released.
Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed return of cross-Channel services could revitalize the port of Weymouth.
He said: “The return of a Channel Islands service would be a big boost for the local economy.
“Hospitality, leisure and tourism could be among the sectors to benefit.
“The new developments are encouraging although I appreciate that it is still early.
“Many businesses in Dorset will be keen to hear more details in due course.”
In the proposals, it is understood that a trial service could start later this year, with the first crossings potentially taking place in the fall.
If this was successful and ferry service was restored, there would likely be one or two crossings per week during the summer months.
Councilor Jon Orrell, Green Party representative for Melcombe Regis, said any such proposal that would see ferries back to the town would be a “welcome boost”.
He said: “Weymouth has been a port for centuries. The return of ferries would be a welcome boost to the town and a return to its historic role. I would like to continue and seek the support of Dorset Council and the Economic Partnership local or fund levelling.”
A Dorset Council spokesperson said Councilor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council, and Councilor David Harris of Weymouth City Council would meet to discuss the results of exploratory work on the possible return of ferry services.
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The spokesperson said: ‘Last June Dorset Council agreed with Weymouth City Council that they would provide a costed business plan, within 12 months, for a potential future ferry service from Weymouth.
“Dorset Council recently received a first outline proposal, but it fails to recognize some of the fundamental considerations that we expected and needed to see. We have asked Weymouth City Council to provide further details, including costs, which it is essential that we fully understand, before a decision can be made.
A cross-Channel service previously operated from Weymouth until 2015 when Condor Ferries transferred services to Poole after the delivery of a £50million vessel which was too large for the port of Weymouth.
Weymouth residents have long supported the return of ferry services and hopes were boosted when it was revealed the boss of Condor Ferries held a meeting with council officials last November.
Weymouth City Council last year was given 12 months to assess the feasibility of bringing passenger ferry services back to the town. Councilors were given a deadline of June 30, 2022 to assess options for redevelopment of the ferry terminal site.
A Weymouth City Council spokesperson said: “We are currently liaising with Dorset Council and are considering issuing a statement on Monday.
“At this time no further comment will be made by Weymouth City Council.”